Cycle Melbourne, Road Ride, The Boulevard Burn
The Yarra Boulevard is second only to Beach Road along the bay as a popular training ride for road warriors and recreational cyclists. With gentle climbs and descents, few side streets, no traffic lights and a wide road shoulder it draws cyclists from all around. You can cruise or have a good workout in a pleasant locale. Lycra seems to be the uniform of choice, but also expect to see flat bar cyclists in street gear, commuting or perhaps working up an excuse for a coffee somewhere nearby.
The centrepiece of this ride, the Yarra Boulevard, was constructed during the depression of the 1930s as part of a work for sustenance scheme, which was designed to support the unemployed. The road opened up the area for development, provided a scenic route around the river and gave access to the Studley Park Boathouse, which was built in 1864 to shelter the watercraft of pleasure seeking genteel folk. With its curves and climbs, and views to the city in places, the road is popular today with land bound pleasure seekers. One group to watch for are the few motor cyclists who seem to be honing their skills with a view to taking on Valentino Rossi some time soon.
If you would like to make a day of it, the Studley Park Boathouse would make a good base for this ride. It has a restaurant, a café and a kiosk to cater for all levels of dining and hires row boats and canoes. There are also picnic areas at the boathouse and further along the river at the Bellbird picnic area for those who have their own supplies. Another place worth stopping is the Wurundjeri Lookout, at the top of the first climb from Chandler Highway, for a great view across the river valley to the city skyline. If you are a dedicated roadie you might prefer to zoom up and down the boulevard, but the link to the Richmond end of the ride along the Main Yarra Trail is skinny tyre friendly. You just have to exercise care and go carefully around other path users. From there you continue to wind around the river, with the choice of continuing on the shared path or heading on to the road, which is wide and flat. If you are feeling extra frisky it is a short five kilometres along the Main Yarra Trail to the city, where the riding options are many. If you are feeling like something less strenuous take the sealed, shared path away from the boulevard at Wurundjeri Lookout. This takes you over the pipe bridge to the other side of the river where you can head for Fairfield Boathouse, which provides similar services to Studley Park, or sidle up to the coffee shop mecca around Fairfield station.
The start is a short ride from Fairfield or Alphington stations. Alternatively, start at the other end with a five kilometre ride along the Capital City Trail from the city. If you’re driving, there is parking available where the ride starts or at the two picnic areas you pass along Yarra Boulevard.
Food and Drink
Studley Park Boathouse was established in 1863 and is the oldest operating boathouse in Australia. A short stroll from the car park, the boathouse offers light meals and coffee after a ride, as well as being an established restaurant.